A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
US Army Sgt.-Major Lance Poole, a Shoshone Indian, returns home from the Civil War a highly decorated war hero, his intention being to live a quiet life on the family farm outside Big Horn in the Wyoming Territory being a cattle rancher. His family has been able to live the dream of eking out a good life off the impoverished reserve where there is little hope of that good life, in the process, while still retaining their traditional ways, being admired by the locals who know him and his family. Things have changed during his time away, anti-Indian legislation enacted in the Territory which has brought many farmers, ranchers and others to the area to homestead, which they are able to do legally on the Pooles' land since the Pooles do not have official title. With lawyer Verne Coolan being an open bigot who would not help any Shoshone even if asked, Lance turns to the only other lawyer in the area for legal advice, he learning on their first meeting that "A. Masters" is Orrie Masters, a...Written by
After an unsuccessful May 1950 press preview, MGM shelved the film. The grim movie was superbly made, but its uncompromising, downbeat story seemed to spell box-office disaster. After the release of the more mainstream Broken Arrow (1950) the following fall, it did get some bottom-of-the-bill bookings in neighborhood grindhouses but did little business and has remained little seen. See more »
Every Shoshone boy has to go through that. It's a test. Before a boy turns into a man, the tribe wants to know if he measures up.
Well, what does he have to do?
He's given a knife, nothing else. No food, no water. He has to go up into the mountains above the snow line... and bring back the talons of an eagle. He has three days to do it in. He has to be back on the third day before the sun goes down.
Isn't it rather cruel?
It depends on your point of view. You see, Shoshoni are a small tribe. ...
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Your one other comment on this film so far (Under the Arch) sums up my feelings entirely. Why this masterpiece of a film is not mentioned in the same historical discussions of great westerns as Stagecoach, The Oxbow Incident, High Noon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, etc. is beyond me. But of course it was made by Anthony Mann and that says it all. Those little known episodes in our nation's history in which greedy white men dispossessed cooperative and non-violent native Americans can never be re-told often enough; such as when Andrew Jackson, despite a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, conspired in the 1820s with the land robbers so as to allow those white men to exploit the state's mineral wealth in the 1820s. The peaceful and civil Cherokees were driven out of their Carolina homelands and into concentration camps. (Hitler had nothing on Andrew Jackson.) From there the Cherokees were driven into Florida and then on to Oklahoma via the "Trail of Tears." And the Devil's Doorway is such a classic tale of land-grabbing, ethnic cleansing, bigotry, and high-handed discriminatory bureaucracy as to make your flesh creep. See it.
PS I recently (2009) saw Anthony Mann's Cimarron (1960, his last Western) for the first time and read all the many reviews of it. Many went into great depth as to Mann and his career, listing and evaluating many of his previous films. Not one of them mentioned this film, perhaps his greatest! So even among Mann aficionados one of his greatest accomplishments has fallen by the wayside and into the memory hole! What can be done about this to bring back such a classic and restore it to its rightful place in film history?
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